TO Jazz Review: Delerium, June 27, Church of the Redeemer


Toronto – A seasoned and talented jazz quartet with a couple of critically acclaimed albums under their belt. An intimate venue with great acoustics mere steps from the subway line. A reasonable ticket price as part of the Toronto Jazz Festival. So why were there only about 10 people in the crowd for Delerium’s wonderful show at Church of the Redeemer on Saturday night?

It certainly wasn’t the band’s fault. I love jazz shows because it’s a treat to see a talented jazz musician on stage, the way they can play at a level that seems otherworldly to those, such as myself, who are distinctly lacking in musical talent. It’s an even greater treat to see a jazz group of great musicians who’ve been playing together for a long time; the way they’re able to read and play off each other, to send cues to one another with the merest nod or wave. And Delerium are exactly that: a quartet of great musicians. Every band member had the chance to shine with multiple solos throughout the night, and never missed a beat when they played in concert, especially Mikko Innanen on sax and Kasper Tranberg on cornet, who often went from extended solos straight into perfect harmony.

During their 70-minute set Tranberg charmed the crowd with his playing, switching between multiple bells and mutes, going from soft, mourning sounds to loud wails in an instant, and with his between-song banter. Tranberg had some interesting things to say about every composition, particularly one who’s lengthy title I can’t remember enough of to do justice that he said was written by the composer as he walked down the street and inspired by, among other things, “the Dorsey brothers, as in Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra; of course, by mosquitoes; and by ZZ Top.” And damned if every one of those influences weren’t easily recognizable, especially the mosquitoes. Tranberg (seen on the far right of the picture above) certainly charmed me, but I may be a sucker for a slightly nerdy looking cornet player with a Danish accent. I smiled, looked on in wonder, and tapped my feet through the band’s entire set. My lovely companion, meanwhile, who would certainly describe herself as less of a jazz fan than I, thoroughly enjoyed the show, and was also struck by bassist Jonas Westergaard’s massive hands. When Tranberg introduced a composition by Westergaard as being “inspired by the territory of North America,” she was inspired to reply from our spot in the front row “that’s an awfully big territory,” which seemed to give the band a good laugh. “Maybe after listening you can help us narrow it down,” suggested Tranberg.

Their sound is remarkably varied. Sometimes they invoke the slightly abstract solos of an Ornette Coleman or perhaps Sun Ra, but at others invoke the more melodic stylings of someone like Charlie Parker. With the mention of the Dorsey brothers as an influence on one song and Tranberg telling us another was a tribute to both Thelonious Monk and Tomasz Stanko, Delerium is a band with a clear understanding of their jazz history, while still managing to create music all their own.

Fortunate as I feel to be one of the few who saw them, I felt a little bad for the band for playing to such a small crowd. Can I explain the low turnout for Delerium’s show at the beautiful Church of the Redeemer, an Anglican church right at the corner of Bloor and Avenue Road? I wish I could. Maybe people didn’t know where the venue was. Maybe more and more people expect more mainstream acts in their jazz festivals. My companion remarked, though, sometimes it’s nice to see a jazz band at a jazz festival, especially one as talented and polished as Delerium.


This is Delerium’s first tour of North America. They’re on the jazz festival circuit, with their stop in Toronto coming after festival dates in Rochester and Ottawa. Some bands might be discouraged by such a small turnout early in their tour, but bassist Jonas Westergaard wasn’t.

“It would be [discouraging] if it was our only show over here,” he said after the show. “It would be a long way to come for almost nothing.”

I just hope the low turnout doesn’t sour them on coming back to Toronto. See their shows during the rest of their tour, many of which are free as part of other jazz fests, so that they come back to North America some day.

North American Tour Dates:

June 28: Coastal Jazz, Vancouver BC
June 29: Coastal Jazz, Vancouver BC
July 1: Jazzfest International, Victoria BC
July 2: Saskatchewan Jazz Festival, Saskatoon

Posted on by Brian in Concerts, Toronto Jazz Festival